What Are You Really Hungry For?

What would your life look like if you only ate when you were hungry?

Physically hungry. You know, the kind of hunger where you feel it in your belly. That rumpling, hallow, soreness above your belly button. That empty, dizzy, dull ache that you experience a couple hours after eating a light meal. What if your hunger was your only guide to when and how much you ate?

What if you did away with meal planning, calorie counting, and timing of meals? What if you let go of thinking some foods are bad and others aren't, and just started eating whatever you wanted when you're hungry? What would have to change in order for you to do this?

For me, eating only when I'm hungry requires trust. Trust that my body's cues for hunger are real, trust that I won't devour everything in sight if I let myself have what I want. 

More than trust, I've also had to release control. Planning diets and meals has given me a sense of stability, a sense that I can expect certain things. I was initially put off by relying on my body's hunger and cravings because it felt way too open-ended and unpredictable. 

I have also had to work through feelings of guilt for even giving myself the permission to pay attention to how I feel. To pause and notice if I am truly hungry or not. To know that I deserve to eat when I am hungry, and to remember that if I DON'T eat when I am hungry, I will most likely binge later. 

The body has an amazing internal survival-happy rebel that stakes a glorious stand when we try to deprive ourselves of what we need. We need food. And we need food with fat—possibly the "bad foods" that you've tried to stay away from. 

This internal rebel will act out by bingeing when we deprive ourselves of eating what our bodies want when we're hungry. It may not happen right away, but as Geneen Roth says, "For every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge."

Self-deprivation always results in some undesirable response from the body. And if you have a restrictive diet and really can't eat certain things, then eating those harmful foods is actually depriving your body of health. 

What would it look like for you to not deprive yourself any longer? What might scare you about a life of no self-deprivation? What do you think might happen? Who do you think you might offend? What might you lose? 

And what might you gain?